Building or renovating a home is a very personal experience.

Excerpts from our "Ask the Expert" segment with Shelley Irwin on December 17:

Q: How closely do you work with the families during a home renovation or new design?

A: Building or renovating a home is a very personal experience. We work to discover what’s important to them. We ask a series of questions to fully understand their needs. We want to know what each room is used for and at what time of day. From the answers we develop a few options with various rooms and layouts. We present those options in the form of physical models on a small scale. Once we settle on a design we develop that model on the computer, both in 2D and 3D, it’s important for people to see what their house is going to look like when we’re done.

Let's look at an example:

This is the before and "in process" shot of a 1950’s cottage on a lake in Rockford. It was one of the three original cottages and had been in the family for 90 years. It was falling apart and positioned on a challenging site that was 40 ft wide. From the three options the home owners chose the most modern because it solved all challenges with the site and satisfied all of their needs. Once they decided we jumped up in scale and showed them how the outdoor kitchen doubles their living space in summer and how the large overhangs keep the sun out during hottest months and hottest times of day which reduces energy cost and keeps them comfortable. We strategically placed operable windows to maximize the lake breezes which naturally cools the home. Learn more about this project.